During the short days and cold of winter, we can’t wait for the warmth of summer to get outside for a run, a ride or anything else. Now that the heat has come to D.C. in a big way, it’s important to be smart about working out.
Know the signs. Heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heatstroke have symptoms: muscle cramps, nausea, headaches, fatigue, irritability, confusion, dizziness and rapid heartbeat. If you feel any of these, it’s time to stop right now, go inside, cool off and rehydrate.
Humidity trumps heat. Your body cools by sweating; the sweat evaporates and carries heat away from the body. Humidity gets in the way of this evaporation, preventing the system from properly cooling you off and increasing the risk of overheating.
Time your workouts. Get your outdoor summer workout done before 7 a.m. or after 6 p.m. This will allow you to exercise at cooler temperatures and without the sun beating you down from directly overhead.
Be careful with medication. The decongestants we take for summer colds and the antihistamines we take for hay fever can interfere with the body’s ability to cool itself. Keep this in mind and be flexible, adjusting your workout or taking it indoors when you start any new medications.
Alcohol works overnight. Just because your buzz is gone and you don’t have a hangover doesn’t mean that everything is back to normal. Celebrity fitness coach Todd Durkin tells his athletes that it takes about a day to recover from one drink.
Use common sense. A lot of staying safe during summer exercise is common sense. Wear light-colored, breathable clothing to reflect the heat. Find as much shade as you can so that your whole workout isn’t in direct sunlight. And hydrate yourself, drinking 20 ounces two hours before you work out, then rehydrate when you come back in.
A best-selling author and fitness expert, Josef Brandenburg owns True 180 Fitness in Georgetown. Information about his 14-Day trial may be found at true180.fitness.